I’m a preacher’s kid, so I’ve sat through a lot of sermons, pretty much all of them longer than a minute. When it became my turn to talk at the close of the troop meeting, I tried to use some of what I’d learned in all that time.
My dad was a really good preacher, but he got even better after a short post-graduate course with Dr. Reuel Howe at the Institute for Advanced Pastoral Studies. As my dad explained it, he learned a simple approach to an effective sermon. There are three ingredients:
- a story from real life, personal is better
- a selection from scripture
- relate those two to each other and the people you are addressing
When assembling a Scoutmaster Minute, I use this model with each part pared down to the essentials. Our “scripture” is the Scout Oath and Law, the motto, and the slogan. I try to address something in the boy’s lives, whether it is finals or the unpleasantness at the previous campout.
The story is essential. Made-up parables just don’t have the impact of something from real life and telling your own story is always more powerful than telling someone elses. If you have to choose between a good story and a good moral, choose the story.
When it works, there is an immediate connection. Reuel Howe called this “dialogue”, even though only one person was speaking. In his words:
[…] the listener knows that he is being addressed by another, and that the content is living truth which speaks to meanings coming from his own experience. He experiences an invitation to participate even though at the moment he cannot speak aloud. But because he is addressed dialogically, he will speak and act later.
Sounds like the ideal outcome of a Scoutmaster Minute.